Sunday, October 7, 2007

Working at a Game Store

I've got a new employee starting Sunday. New employees get me thinking about my expectations. You can write a book about the job, but it's summed up in three basic tasks. These tasks are simple, yet they're difficult to master. Some approach artistry, something hard to express to someone hired at $9/hour. Failure to achieve the fundamentals of any of these is grounds for dismissal, yet basic competence is enough to keep a job for years. They are:

Keep people from stealing our stuff. Basic loss control is critical. Customers need to be watched at all times. You have to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior. For example, a common tactic is when a couple guys walk into the store and immediately split up. One may come up to the cashier as a distraction while the other steals. There is an instinctual thing you develop about this stuff, but it can certainly be learned. A little training is in order, but the key for the employee is understanding this is job one. You've got to look out for theft, know what to do when you find it, and know how to prevent it in the first place.

Sell them some stuff. Being able to engage people and help them find what they're looking for is critical. Being able to suggest things based on their needs is the skill to learn. Upselling, suggestive selling, cross-selling, demo selling and the like is the holy grail and will be noticed and rewarded. It's a skill I'm constantly trying to develop in myself. Again, sales ability are sets of skills that almost anyone can learn.

Clean and organize our stuff. I am not obsessive compulsive (and I'm not changing my story), I just believe in having a clean and organized store. This means the carpet is vacuumed every day, the glass is cleaned when it's dirty, areas of the store are systematically cleaned, and the cashier walks the floor at least hourly to straighten up shelves. It also includes getting processes down, such as cash drops and properly opening and closing. Face the bills in the register for gods sake. Those are basic skills. Advanced skills include: Building displays, facing new games or games that sell best or you can sell best, creating interesting signage, and creating better processes. This is generally manager territory, but it doesn't have to be.

So how hard is it to do all this? If you can do the basics, you're golden. If you can do all the advanced stuff to my satisfaction, I'll give you my job, put you on salary and open a second store.

What about all the games? Playing games is something we do on our own time, myself included. I don't pay people to run demos or events unless I'm really desperate (a roomful of people and no judge, for example). I think playing games is critical for sales success, but we work at a game store because we like games. It's kinda assumed employees play them or again, I probably wouldn't hire them. Then again, be competent at all three of those skills and I don't much care.


  1. I like having the bills face all in one direction; it makes them easier to count. Of course, I do that with all money - it's habit.

  2. You are obsessive compulsive, but that's a good thing in what you do. :-)

  3. "Facing" bills is not and OCD thing. It makes it harder to accidentally put the wrong bill in a tray, and more easier to both count the money at the time of purchase, but also at the end of the day. It also makes it quicker and easier to make proper change.

    OCD is when you determine which direction a given place is (for example, Mecca, a regional place of interest, or your local bank), and require that all bills be "faced" so that the top of the heads point that way - not just that they all match, in each drawer, and that all the drawers match, but that they always face the same way, every day.

  4. Two comments.
    1. You are totally OCD, you wanna-be virgo you.
    2. I find it funny that you're going on about facing because I worked the con with you, and that cash drawer was a MESS! Every time I would get the money even slightly organized, you would touch it and it was a mess again. I think they have a word for that...

  5. At the cons I'm usually going for speed, since people are already waiting while we write up their purchase in a sales book. I then go back later and organize the cash box. I can see where that would drive you nuts though.

  6. The new employee is very cute... and i don't think you're OCD bro... Nobody likes a dirty store... and the bills facing thing? everyone knows that bills facing one way gives you +25 in your mercantile skill... pssshhh forget dem haters, yo!